The Latest with Laura Jeyes

  • Minister for Employment
  • Minister for Women
  • Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
  • Senator for Western Australia


SUBJECT/S:   Federal Budget; PaTH; Childcare

LAURA JAYES:      And earlier I did speak to the Employment Minister Michaelia Cash and asked her about the Government’s jobs plan. This is a Budget that the Government says is all about jobs and growth, but why in the Government’s own forecasts over the three years in the forward estimates does the unemployment rate stay at 5.5 per cent?

Michaelia Cash, thanks so much for your time.

MINISTER CASH:  [Talks over] Great to be with you.

LAURA JAYES:      This is a Budget about jobs and growth.

MINISTER CASH:  [Talks over] Yes.

LAURA JAYES:      If I look at the unemployment rate in the forecasts in the Budget, it’s meant to be at 5.7 per cent for the year ahead, but then it only dips to 5.5 per cent for the rest of the forward estimates. So is this a concern to you, given this is a Budget all about jobs and growth, that the unemployment rate’s not actually going to go down all that much?

MINISTER CASH:  Given where the unemployment rate was, and in particular given where the unemployment rate is today- so the unemployment rate that we have today is the same as the unemployment rate when we came into office, and when you look at the number of jobs that have been created by the economy since we came into office, clearly we are growing the economy. I’ll give you the figures. Since we came into office, in excess of 441,000 jobs have been created by the economy. In the last, say, 12 months, around 300,000 jobs have been created. The comparison is the last 12 months of the former Labor Government. They created on average around 80,000 to 85,000 jobs. So when you look at job creation under the Coalition Government versus job creation under the Labor Government in the last 12 months, we are creating jobs three to one. So certainly- whilst again, I will always say there’s more to do in relation to unemployment, I’m pleased that we’ve managed to get it down to 5.7, but then we continue on the trajectory. All the trend signs are good for the economy.

LAURA JAYES:      But the trend signs in the Budget are not on a trajectory downwards. It plateaus over the rest of the forward estimates, so by your own figures, it’s not actually that ambitious.

MINISTER CASH:  When you look at where we were and where we are today and where we are going. In the last sort of two years or so we’ve created an additional 50,000 jobs that have been taken up by our young people. We need to do more to stimulate growth, because when you grow the economy, you create more jobs, and that’s what we are all about. And I’ll stand by our figures in relation to for every three jobs that we’re creating or the economy’s creating, the former Labor Government created one.

LAURA JAYES:      One of the centrepieces of this Budget is of course the youth program, the PaTH program. Young people get paid $200 a fortnight to take on internships. How do you make sure, though, that business isn’t going to take advantage of this cheap labour? What are the safeguards?

MINISTER CASH:  Okay. In the first instance, this is an $840 million initiative by the Government. It’s our youth employment initiative, and it’s all about getting our youth- so giving them a go, getting them ready, and getting them a job. So preparing them for work, giving them the opportunity to undertake an internship in the workplace, which will ultimately, we hope, lead to full-time employment. Now in terms of the caveat that we’re putting dow- around the program, in particular they will still be in receipt of their welfare payment whilst they’re undertaking the internship. So that might be the Youth Allowance; it might be Newstart. On top of that, though, to incentivise them to take up this internship, we will pay them an additional $200 per fortnight. So I’ve seen some reporting which says there’s only $200. It’s not. That is an additional $200 per fortnight.

LAURA JAYES:      [Talks over] I get the- sure, the incentive for the young people to get into work, but what’s the incentive for business to do the right thing? What’s to say that a small business or a medium-sized business could take these young people on in an internship program and it doesn’t cost them any money, then at the end of that they say actually, sorry, there’s no job for you?

MINISTER CASH:  We are going to limit the length of the internship in the first instance. So it can be between four and 12 weeks. The businesses will be working very closely with the Department and the jobactive provider, so they have to be a business that has been certified as having an actual job vacancy. This cannot be something that they have created. The Department will also monitor the businesses very closely, so in the event that a business does seek to exploit the program, I can give you an assurance they will be banned from using the program. That’s it. They will be banned. But certainly all the feedback that we’ve received from the business groups, and even, I saw Cassandra Goldie from ACOSS has come out and said this is the right initiative. It is the right initiative for our youth, because so often the feedback you get from employers, from jobactive providers, but even from these young people: it’s I don’t have the confidence to go into the workplace. I don’t have the skills. I don’t have those just basic hello my name is John and. So that’s what we’re doing. We’re going to train you up first in the pre-employment training. We’re then going to get you your foot in the door with a business, but we’re going to work with the business, with you as the individual, and with your jobactive provider to make sure the job that you’re going into is the right job for you, and then after the internship, we would hope that the business says to you, guess what, we’re offering you a full-time job, because what we are all about as a Government is ensuring that our youth, those who are not in a job at the moment, those who are dependent on welfare, they make that transition from welfare into work, because we do believe the best form of welfare is a job. And that’s why when you hear the Prime Minister, when you hear the Treasurer explain we didn’t hand down a Budget last night. We handed down an economic plan for all Australians, and a signature part of that economic plan was our $840 million investment in real jobs, real jobs for our youth.

LAURA JAYES:      What about women and workforce participation amongst females? How are women going to get jobs if they can’t get childcare because this Budget has delayed the $3 billion package, and now it’s in the last Budget until next year?

MINISTER CASH:  And I have to say if it wasn’t for the Senate, our package wouldn’t have gone through, but we have to deal in what our reality is, and our reality is so many of our measures remained blocked in the Senate. So we’ve taken a decision that we will defer the implementation of the package by 12 months. As you would know, the Prime Minister will be dissolving the Parliament over the next few days. We will proceed to a double dissolution election on July 2, and I’ll say to the people of Australia here on your show: if you want to return the Turnbull Government – and I believe we have a very, very good policy platform to grow Australia and to also ensure that we have jobs – but you need to give us the authority to implement our agenda in the Senate. And part of that agenda, as you know, is childcare.

LAURA JAYES:      Michaelia Cash, thanks so much for your time.

MINISTER CASH:  Great, thanks for having me on the show.

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